If you enjoy helping people and you have valuable tools and systems to share with the world, coaching is a great way to do it – making a great living while doing it is a plus as well. But, like any business, there’s a lot that goes into building a successful coaching business. Luckily, this guide on how to start an online coaching business is here to help.
I’ll explore how to launch your online coaching business in five steps:
- Choose a coaching niche
- Define your Unique Selling Point (USP)
- Create your coaching program
- Determine your pricing
- Build your website
At the end of this guide, I’ll share some resources to help you with marketing and other aspects of your business launch.
Let’s get into it!
How to start an online coaching business
1. Choose a coaching niche
The first step in how to start an online coaching business is to choose a coaching niche.
Your niche is the type of coaching you will do, which in turn defines the makeup of your audience. For example, if you’re a business coach, your audience might be small business owners. You could even get more specific and aim your coaching at solopreneurs, like Sagan Morrow:
Here are some other examples of coaching niches and some of their potential audiences:
- Fitness coaches might work with professionals in athletic careers like sports or dance
- Wellness coaches might work with time-strapped professionals who want to improve their health
- Career coaches might work with ambitious professionals looking to level up their career
There are many more specialized types of coaches, too, such as book coaches who help novelists complete their books.
How do you choose a niche, though?
Well, you want to ask yourself two questions. What kind of coaching are you most qualified for? What kinds of people do you want to work with? Your ideal niche will meet at the intersection of these two answers. For example, if you’ve built a six-figure income as a freelance writer and you want to help other people who are interested in freelancing, you might become a business coach who specializes in working with individuals alike.
2. Define your USP
The next step in how to start an online coaching business is to define your USP.
Your USP is what sets you apart from other online coaches in the same niche. This can be your qualifications, your approach to coaching, or something else entirely.
The key is to choose something uniquely yours, something that can’t be replicated by other coaches in your niche. For example, if you want to become a business coach, your USP might be that you’ve built several successful businesses and can teach others to do the same.
3. Create your coaching program
Your coaching program is the system you use to help customers. To maximize your earning potential, consider running two types of coaching programs:
- Group coaching where you work with two or more people, sharing your knowledge and strategies for success. You may also offer opportunities for members of the group coaching program to learn from each other or even work together. You can make these groups as small or as large as you want. You can even have multiple group sizes at different price points.
- One-on-one coaching where you work closely with one individual to bring them closer to their goals. You can charge significantly more for this type of coaching than for group coaching.
Regardless of the type of program you’re working on, there are a few key things you’ll want to establish: what you’ll help your clients achieve, how you’ll help them achieve it, and how many sessions/how much of a time commitment you’ll need to make it happen. You should also have protocols in place for people who want additional coaching beyond the number of sessions in your standard program.
You also want to make sure your coaching programs are flexible so that you can meet clients where they are and focus on what they need. This is particularly true in one-on-one coaching programs, as people will expect solutions tailored to fit their unique needs.
⚠️ Pro tip: You can also turn your coaching materials into video courses sold at a lower price point. This can help you reach more people and, if you keep some of your best information exclusive to clients, encourage class participants to invest in a more expensive coaching program. Check out our guide to the best LMS software to discover high-quality course-building tools that you can do this with.
The best software for coaching programs
Another key factor in how to start an online coaching business is the software you’ll use to run your coaching program. Today we’ll look at two programs you can use for this: Paperbell and ClickMeeting.
Paperbell offers tools for selling, scheduling, and running coaching programs. You can use it to create both one-time payment packages and subscription-based programs; run both one-on-one and group video coaching sessions; and manage client notes.
The main drawback of Paperbell is that it doesn’t offer any options for using pre-recorded videos in your coaching programs or for creating and selling video courses. There are also very few integrations.
Pricing: Paperbell costs $57 per month or $47.50 per month with an annual plan. You can also access a full-access free trial for one client with no time limit and no requirement for your credit card information.
ClickMeeting isn’t expressly for coaches, but it provides many features coaches can use to run effective programs. You can use it to run one-on-one meetings, live webinars, on-demand webinars, and automated webinars. ClickMeeting also offers integration with numerous other business and marketing tools, including WordPress.
The disadvantage of this program is that the client management tools for things like scheduling, billing, and managing notes about your clients aren’t quite as advanced as what you can get from Paperbell.
Pricing: ClickMeeting plans start at $25 per month. If you want access to on-demand webinars and other automated tools, however, you’ll need to spring for the $40 per month plan.
4. Determine your pricing
Once you’ve established what your coaching program(s) will look like, the next step in how to start an online coaching business is to price those programs.
There are three main things to consider here:
How much you need to make 👨💻
This is the amount you need to earn per billable hour to make a profit. To understand this, you’ll need to figure out how much it will cost to run your business, how many billable hours you’re able to work each week, and how much you want to make for yourself.
Remember that billable hours are the hours when you see clients, not all of the hours you’re working. If you need 10-20 hours a week to complete things like marketing and business administration tasks, this leaves you with 20-30 hours of billable time per week. This means you need to earn more per hour than you would if you could bill for all 40 hours of your work week.
How much your customer is willing to pay 💰
The next thing to consider is what your ideal customer is not just able, but willing to pay. There are a couple of things you’ll want to do to figure this out:
- Look at what competitors are charging. Don’t just look at the websites of top coaches in your niche, either. Look for people with similar experience levels to you and consider using a similar pricing model. Remember, you can – and should – raise your prices as you gain more experience and more testimonials to show the quality of your work.
- Ask your potential customers. Ask your audience on social media and/or friends who have hired coaches in your niche what they think is reasonable pricing. You can also offer a free or heavily discounted coaching program for your first few customers, then ask them what they think is a reasonable price to charge for your work.
Unfortunately, there is some level of guesswork involved here. People might say they consider your value to be a certain number, then be unable or unwilling to actually pay that number. You may need to revise your pricing if you find that you’re not getting any clients.
Your pricing model 💸
There are three ways coaches charge:
- Per hour, where you get paid for every hour you work with a client.
- By retainer, where a client pays you every month to be available for a specific amount of time. The contract may specify other deliverables as well, such as monthly progress reports.
- Per package, where you sell a set number of sessions within a specified timeframe (for example, 12 sessions in three months).
For most coaches, per package is the most effective way to charge, as your pricing can be rooted in the value of what you provide rather than how much time you spend working to provide it.
5. Build your website
The next step in how to start an online coaching business is to build your website. There are a few things you’ll need to get your site up and running:
- A high-quality web host with guaranteed 99.9% uptime, fast loading speeds, SSL certification, and top-notch security.
- A CMS like WordPress for organizing and publishing your content.
- A high-quality theme for displaying your content in interesting ways.
If you’re using WordPress, you’ll also need to install plugins for things like SEO, contact forms, and caching to improve loading speeds. You can also use a plugin like Otter Blocks to gain access to specialized blocks for displaying things like testimonials, pricing charts, and more.
Once you’ve set up the design and basic functionality of your website, you can move on to creating core pages: your homepage, About page, Contact page, and Services page. If you’re going to offer multiple coaching programs, you may also want to create individual landing pages to promote them.
Final advice on how to start an online coaching business 🧐
Online coaching can be a great way to help people and make a good living.
📌 There are five essential steps in how to start an online coaching business:
- Choose your coaching niche, such as fitness or business coaching
- Define your USP, whether that’s your unique professional experience, the methods you use for coaching, or something else completely unique to you
- Create your coaching program and invest in software like Paperbell or ClickMeeting
- Determine your pricing based on how much you need to make and what customers are willing to pay
- Build your website with a CMS like WordPress so potential customers can easily find you online
Of course, you’ll also need to promote your business to find potential clients. For more help with this side of things, check out our 👉 digital marketing strategy template and our guide on how to create an email marketing strategy.
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